The Crypt
Sessions

The award-winning classical music concert series in the Crypt under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem, curated by Andrew Ousley and presented by Unison Media
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Unison Media is proud to welcome you back to Season 3 of its acclaimed concert series The Crypt Sessions, curated by Andrew Ousley. Please sign up to our mailing list for the chance to purchase tickets as soon as new concerts are announced! We look forward to another amazing year. Also, we were honored to have Conrad Tao’s Crypt Session be selected as one of The New York Times’ “Best Classical Music Performances of 2017”!

And let us please take a moment to thank our amazing, amazing sponsor Yamaha for generously providing their world-class pianos!

Upcoming Event

July 24, 2018

Lawrence Brownlee

With Jason Moran, Myra Huang, and Damien Sneed
Wine & Food Tasting @ 7pm
Showtime @ 8pm
Thank you to our sponsor Yamaha for the piano
Buy your tickets
the long version

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee is one of the top singers in the world, and if you don't trust me (and you probably shouldn't), you can read about it in NPRThe New York TimesThe GuardianThe Philadelphia InquirerThe Chicago Tribune, and about a gazillion other outlets more reputable than myself, who all recently covered the premiere of his acclaimed song cycle, Cycles of My Being, about being a black man in America today.

For this one-of-a-kind performance, Brownlee will perform a wide-ranging program, accompanied by three of the finest pianists performing today: jazz giant Jason Moran (who joined Larry for a powerful NPR video in the Crypt), classical titan Myra Huang, and gospel great Damien Sneed. Music will range from Schumann to Hoagie Carmichael to spirituals, and will include the first movement of the new song cycle, composed by Tyshawn Sorey with lyrics by Terrance Hayes.

Larry was one of the first performers on The Crypt Sessions, and we could not be more honored and excited to welcome him back, especially in such profoundly esteemed company.

The short version

A once-in-a-lifetime musical experience. Unfortunately, by the time you read this, tickets will probably already be sold out...

In The Media

“The numinous setting of Crypt Sessions lends emotional power to the series’ genre-bending programs.”

- The New Yorker
press

Past Concerts

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Lara St. John

Long version
“Consummate Badass” is not a moniker often ascribed to Classical musicians, but if anyone has earned it, it’s superstar violinist Lara St. John. Why, you may ask? Well, I’ll give you a few reasons: 1) she owns an iguana, and has performed with it on stage, 2) She was the first classical musician to start her own record label in 1999, 5 years before Radiohead (take that Thom Yorke!), 3) She called out Game of Thrones for not using a live cellist in their theme song (you know, the “duhn duhn, duh duh duhn duhn, duh duh duhn duhn,” one).She’s essentially the Daenerys Targaryen of stringed instruments – the L.A. Times even called her “a volcanic violinist with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of her like molten lava. She has technique to burn and plays at a constant high heat.” So there’s that…Lara will come to the Crypt on March 14 & 15 with the absurdly talented pianist Matt Herskowitz to perform her haunting, heart-pounding program “Lavuta: Violin Beyond the Pale.” The music, which she recorded for her acclaimed album Shiksa, features a collection of her favorite Eastern European folk tunes, re-imagined by some of today’s top composers. Have you ever wanted to hear “Hava Nagila” transformed into an epic, eight-minute violin showpiece? Lara’s got you covered…
Short Version
The Short Version: “Wildly Enjoyable” is not a phrase often used to describe a Classical music concert, but this is going to be a thrilling, moving, deeply-memorable night of music making from one of the leading-lights of the art form.*Thank you to our sponsor Yamaha for the piano!*
Mar 14 & 15, 2018

Lara St. John

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Feb 1, 2018

The Attacca Quartet

The Attaca Quartet

Long version
The Attacca Quartet – universally praised as one of the top American string quartets by small, unimportant news outlets like NPR, The New York Times, and the Washington Post – return to the Crypt Sessions, following up their heart-rending Season 1 performance of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross with what is simply one of the most extraordinarily powerful, transcendently life-affirming pieces of music ever written: Beethoven’s final String Quartet, the towering Op. 132.Beethoven had been deaf for more than 25 years when he wrote this piece, and the sounds he created out of that long internal silence are almost otherworldly at times. The beating, bleeding heart of it is the miraculous, 18-minute central slow movement, which Beethoven wrote after recovering from a terrible illness and titled “Hymn of thanks to God from one who is healed.” Tomes have been written on this deeply-moving expression of the human condition, and any words here will fall short of the performance that this remarkable ensemble will give it on February 1st. 
Short Version
Join us for an evening you will never forget – one of the finest quartets performing today, playing one of the most life-changingly beautiful, profoundly human pieces of music ever composed.
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Nov 15, 2017

Alyson Cambridge

Alyson Cambridge

Long version
Soprano Alyson Cambridge takes a break from singing at the world’s top opera stages (as well as modeling, acting and hosting…nbd…) to present a very special program in the Crypt: William Bolcom’s acclaimed song cycle “From the Diary of Sally Hemings.” The eighteen imagined diary entries tell the life story of Thomas Jefferson’s slave-turned-mistress, grappling with issues of race, regret, respect and love that are as relevant today as they were back then.Cambridge has been hailed by critics as “radiant, vocally assured, dramatically subtle and compelling, and artistically imaginative” (Washington Post), noted for her “powerful, clear voice” (New York Times) and “revelatory, sensual, smoky readings” (Opera News). We’re excited to have her join us in the Crypt.
Short Version
In these times of racial division, there are lessons to be learned from the past. No better story to learn from than this, and no better storyteller than Alyson Cambridge.
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Sep 27, 2017

David Greilsammer

David Greilsammer

Long version
After a Summer Break, Season 2 of The Crypt Sessions continues on September 27, 2017 with pianist and conductor David Greilsammer – hailed by The New York Times as “one the most accomplished and adventurous musicians of his generation” – giving the only New York performance of his acclaimed Labyrinth program.(David had been scheduled to perform on April 5, but had to withdraw due to illness. Fortunately pianist/composer/all-around-phenom Conrad Tao was able to jump in and perform in his stead…you can read The New York Times review of that show here – spoiler alert, it was amazing.)David’s performance takes Leoš Janáček’s haunting piece On An Overgrown Path, and interrupts each movement with works by C.P.E Bach, Mozart, and Jean-Féry Rebel, and two U.S. premiere works of Israeli composer Ofer Pelz, turning the path into a musical maze that winds in on itself before finding its way out.Here’s what the artist has to say about the program: “Each one of us has been, at some point in life, lost, disoriented, or in search for a safe and luminous path. This feeling of disorientation, leading at times to inner chaos, can also serve as the force that will push us to begin the pursuit of new routes, new ideas, and new emotions. Walking through the daunting sounds of Janáček’s music, and exploring the mysterious alleys of various enigmatic pieces from early baroque to our present days, I have decided to embark on a musical journey to the heart of a beautiful, abstract, and dazzling labyrinth.”
Short Version
“Crypt”…”Labyrinth”…close enough. When you get to hear a pianist of this magnitude playing a program of such haunting depth and potency, words all but lose their meaning anyways…
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May 31, 2017

Elizabeth Cree

Elizabeth Cree

Long version
his September, the marvelous folks at Opera Philadelphia are going to premiere a new Gothic murder mystery opera called Elizabeth Cree, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning team of composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, and starring mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack in the title role (she was literally described by The Telegraph as “a purringly elegant BMW of a singer”).Because there’s no better place to hear Gothic murder mystery than in a Gothic Crypt, we’re going to be giving a special sneak preview of the music from the opera, featuring Maestro Puts at the piano, and Daniela and tenor Joseph Gaines (who’ll be singing the role of an old-time Music Hall star) singing some arias from the piece. Librettist Mark Campbell will also be on hand to speak about the piece with Kevin.In addition to the Elizabeth Cree preview, we’ll also get to hear Daniela and Joseph perform some additional music from Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc and Henry Purcell – all of which will fit seamlessly into the overall mood of “creepy-sounding and death-related.”So come join us for what’s sure to be an riveting, hair-raising evening of music-making.
Short Version
Get an exclusive first listen to one of the most highly-anticipated new operas of the year, performed by three extraordinary talents.
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may 3, 2017

Joshua Roman

Joshua Roman

Long version
You might have been one of the millions to watch Joshua Roman’s post-election Bach Cello Suite performance (livestreamed on the Facebook page of TED, where Josh acts as a Senior Fellow). Either way, you should spend more time with this mind-boggling talented cellist/composer/curator, and we’re pleased offer you that opportunity on May 3, 2017, as Josh descends into the Crypt for a solo cello recital entitled Riding Light.The music begins in darkness with Bach’s spare, haunting Suite No. 2 in D Minor, before moving through sonatas by György Ligeti and George Crumb – both written during the period of lovestruck adolescence, with music that alternates between shaded meditation and stormy intensity – and finishing with a composition of his of his own, the transcendently radiant Riding Light.Roman performed in the Crypt with Gregg Kallor in last season’s finale concert of The Tell-Tale Heart, and his playing was praised by Berkshire Fine Arts, saying: “Roman is a musician who can afford to expose his talent in long drawn out single tones..often miraculously drawn from his instrument.”
Short Version
Come ride the lightning with us, in what promises to be a profoundly impactful performance by one of classical music’s brightest stars.
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apr 5, 2017

Conrad Tao

Conrad Tao

Long version
Season 2 of The Crypt Sessions continues on April 5, 2017 – we had planned to have David Greilsammer perform, but due to sudden and severe illness, he has withdrawn. Fortunately, the ridiculously, awesomely badass Conrad Tao has agreed to step in and perform what he fondly refers to as his “American Rage” program: Aaron Copland’s Piano Sonata bookended with works by Frederic Rzewski – a musical mix that moves from intense to overwhelming to tender, aching nostalgia. It’s going to be remarkable…More on Conrad: he’s one of today’s most extraordinary young musical talents – The New York Times called him a performer of “probing intellect and openhearted vision” NPR called him “a musician of deep intellectual and emotional means” while TimeOut New York just called him “ferociously talented.”
Short Version
Any opportunity to see Conrad Tao should be seized upon like a leopard seal seizes upon a slow-swimming penguin. Join us for an amazing evening of American Raging…
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feb 1, 2017

Lara Downes

Lara Downes

Long version
Season 2 of The Crypt Sessions kicks off on February 1, 2017, with pianist Lara Downes (dubbed “Luscious, moody and dreamy” by The New York Times) performing a program remembering her father and his Harlem childhood, while also paying tribute to the many artists who made Harlem their home and inspiration.You’ll hear music from Downes’ new album America Again (NPR loves it!) by Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Florence Price, Nina Simone, William Grant Still, as well as a world premiere by composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, and a spoken word tribute to Langston Hughes (it’s his birthday Feb 1!) by poet Joshua Bennett.
Short Version
Come help us start off Season 2 in proper fashion, with one of our absolute favorite pianists who will make you laugh, cry, smile and generally feel all of the feels.*Thank you to our sponsor Yamaha for the piano!*More infoBuy Tickets
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oct 26 & 28, 2016

Gregg Kallor
The Tell-Tale Heart

Gregg Kallor
The Tell-Tale Heart

Long version
When you’re pianist/composer Gregg Kallor, instead of celebrating Halloween with a $5 mask and one too many Kit Kats, you give the world premiere of your new musical rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-tale Heart for piano and mezzo-soprano-slash-rockstar Elizabeth Pojanowski. A collaboration with On Site Opera, the The Tell-tale Heart features a semi-staging setup by the always-awesome director Sarah Meyers, whom you might know from a little place called The Metropolitan f-ing Opera. Oh, and if you’re Gregg then you also perform your cello sonata, Undercurrent, as well with cello superstar Joshua Roman, just for good measure.
Short Version
he perfect, creepy-tastic way to end the 2016 season and enjoy the work of some of NYC’s fastest-rising musical talents.*Thank you to our sponsor Yamaha for the piano!*
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Sep 23, 2016

Matt Haimovitz

Matt Haimovitz

Long version
Cellist Matt Haimovitz is, quite simply, one of the greatest and most utterly individual performers of his generation. Dissatisfied with the standard classical music scene, he broke off and followed his own muse, performing Bach’s immortal cello suites in bars and clubs around the country. Now he brings these moving, solitary works to the Crypt, accompanied by newly-commissioned pieces by Philip Glass, Vijay Iyer and more.
Short Version
One of the greatest cellists in the world will take you on a journey through a fusion of old and new works.
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aug 25, 2016

Cristina & Michelle
Naughton

Cristina & Michelle Naughton

Long version
The beautiful, talented young twin sister piano duo Christina and Michelle Naughton bring their near-telepathic talents to the Crypt, performing one of the most staggering works ever written: Messiaen’s haunting, gripping, wrenching Visions de l’Amen.
Short Version
Just don’t miss this one.*Thank you to Yamaha for not one, but TWO pianos!*
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june 8, 2016

The Attaca Quartet

The Attaca Quartet

Long version
One of chamber music’s brightest voices, the Attacca Quartet perform with a sense of commitment and maturity far beyond their years. For the Crypt, they will perform Haydn’s great masterwork The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, arranged for quartet by Andrew Yee and the Attacca themselves. The work is an extended meditation on the final moments of life.
Short Version
Four young stars perform a work that could not be more perfectly suited to the Crypt space.
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may 10, 2016

Haskell Small

Haskell Small

Long version
Pianist/composer Haskell Small performs works by Pärt, Beethoven, Hovhaness and himself before delving into Tavener’s Pratirupa, giving the New York premiere of a work which attempts to “reflect the most beautiful, the Divine Presence which resides in every human being.” Small, known for his “devotion to subtle beauty” and his “shattering performances,” brings his quiet focus to the Crypt in this special program.
Short Version
A program of music that reaches for the heavens without forgetting all that makes us human.
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apr 4, 2016

Alexandre Tharaud

Alexandre Tharaud

Long version
Internationally-renowned French pianist Alexandre Tharaud will perform Bach’s towering Goldberg Variations, one of the most technically-demanding, transcendent works ever written. Tharaud’s recent recording of the piece was among the New York Times‘ “Best Recordings of 2015,” and he performed the work by candlelight shortly after the ISIS shootings in Paris.
Short Version
An intimate, intense evening of music with one of today’s greatest pianists.
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Dec 9, 2015

Lawrence Brownlee

Lawrence Brownlee

Pianist/composer Haskell Small performs works by Pärt, Beethoven, Hovhaness and himseTenor Lawrence Brownlee will take a break from the Metropolitan Opera stage, where he'll be singing Rossini'sLa Donna del Lago, and share an intimate set of spirituals and other songs - music he grew up with and loved long before he became one of the world's most in-demand bel canto tenors. Accompanying him on the piano will be longtime collaborator and Harlem resident Damien Sneed, who arranged the songs for the concert (as well as their acclaimed recordingSpiritual Sketches).lf before delving into Tavener’s Pratirupa, giving the New York premiere of a work which attempts to “reflect the most beautiful, the Divine Presence which resides in every human being.” Small, known for his “devotion to subtle beauty” and his “shattering performances,” brings his quiet focus to the Crypt in this special program.
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Nov 4, 2015

Conrad Tao

Conrad Tao

21-year-old pianist/composer Conrad will perform a mix of music from his new album Pictures, as well as a few other surprises. Expect everything from the moody atmospherics of David Lang to the melodic grandeur of Mussorgsky to Conrad's own music. Come hear what all the buzz is about.
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John Holiday

Long version
There’s something miraculous about John Holiday’s voice…he’s a countertenor who sings in the range of a woman, and the result is a voice that possesses an almost angelic purity while still having the power to fill a room. But John is special even among countertenors – in addition to singing arias and art songs at the highest level, he also is able to sit down at the piano and accompany himself in soul-piercing performances of spirituals and jazz standards. I could spend hours describing his talent, but I would instead just urge you to watch two videos that make the case far more eloquently than I ever could: John singing Handel’s “Ombra Mai Fu,” and then the classic “Fly Me to the Moon.” John will sing a program in the Crypt that will include Italian Baroque arias, French chansons, a song cycle by African-American composer Margaret Bonds, and a selection of spirituals and standards near and dear to his heart. This is a singular, world class talent, who will take a break from touring with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel to sing for us in the Crypt. Don’t miss it.
Short Version
The Washington Post described John Holiday’s voice as “timeless,” and amidst the intimate acoustic of the Crypt, he’s going to sing a program that will break our hearts, lift our spirits, and leave us all in a better place. We can’t wait.
apr 26, 2018

John Holiday

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The Venue

The Church of the Intercession is an Episcopal Church located on West 155th and Broadway in New York City, convenient to the 1, C, B and D trains. At Intercession you will be surrounded by a beautiful building but more importantly in an open and welcoming community.
www.intercessionnyc.org

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